Category: Internet

New Version of MS Edge

New Version of MS Edge

Microsoft Edge is a web browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. A web browser lets you view web sites. Microsoft Edge is replacing Internet Explorer. If you have Windows 10, you already have Edge because Edge comes with Windows 10. However, Microsoft recently released a new version of Edge and you may get a pop-up message about it.

The icon for Edge is a lowercase, dark blue ‘e’. Here’s what the Edge icon looks like:

The icon is similar to the Internet Explorer icon which is a light blue lowercase ‘e’ with a gold halo. Here’s what it looks like:

Many people think Edge is Internet Explorer because of the similar icon. Because of this, with this new update, Microsoft is changing the icon for Edge to a blue-green swirl.

If you use Edge, then you should update it if the pop up appears on your computer. But it’s not urgent. If you don’t update it, it will be automatically updated along with the next Windows Update.

If you don’t use Edge, don’t worry about it.

If you do, you may be wondering what’s new with Edge. In a nutshell, it’s core has been totally replaced. The original Edge wasn’t very popular and had a lot of issues and limitations. Microsoft has totally replaced what’s called the engine in Edge and replaced it with the same engine used by Chrome. The engine is called Chromium. Although Chrome and Edge will share the same engine, they will still be very different.

One cool thing with this update is that Edge will now be available, not only on Windows, but on Mac’s, IOS (iPhones & iPads), and Android phones and tablets. They are even going to release a version for Linux.

It will be interesting to see how well it’s received. We haven’t started testing it yet, but will soon.

Internet Traffic has Changed

Internet Traffic has Changed

What is the Internet primarily used for these days? I bet you can guess that video streaming is the biggest chunk of internet traffic. In fact, it’s approaching 80% of traffic on the internet these days.

In 2005, video streaming traffic was just 10% of internet traffic. Because of this increased heavy traffic, the Internet has been slowly re-wired without most consumers even knowing it. If you were streaming video on Netflix or youtube back in 2005 or 2006, or maybe in Hulu in 2007, you may remember that when you tried to start a video, there was a long pause while the video stream was buffered. Once it was buffered, it would start playing. But often in the middle of the video, there would be a pause while it buffered again.

Video streaming companies like Netflix used to have one big data center that had all their video and streamed it to customers all over the world. But they had to change that because it couldn’t keep up with the demand. They slowly converted over to what are called Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). Basically, streaming services like Netflix have videos stored in the cloud at different locations (CDNs) around the world.

A lot of people don’t really understand what the cloud is. It’s basically some server somewhere on the internet that’s not at your local location. It’s called the cloud because you don’t really know exactly where it’s stored. You just know it’s stored somewhere on some server on the internet. As far as you know, it might as well be stored in some cloud in the sky.

Because of this change, when you start a video streaming these days it starts almost instantly and you rarely, if ever, see any kind of buffering either at the beginning or at any time during playback.

When you stream something, it streams it from the CDN closest to you. This cuts down on internet traffic since the video stream doesn’t have to travel as far. And because it’s not travelling as far, it can start faster and there’s no need for pausing to buffer.

The interesting thing is that these streaming services don’t even own the data centers in the CDN. For example, Netflix uses Amazon Web Services for their CDN network data centers. Netflix does have a data center but all it does is send the video to the CDNs. It doesn’t stream video to customers.

Some worry that the video streaming companies have too much power since they basically control 80% of the traffic on the internet and that other traffic on the internet is suffering because of it. Time will tell.

More Search Engine Tips

More Search Engine Tips

In past articles we have talked about how to do searches on search engines like Google. Today, I want to talk about two things related to search engines; advanced search and pay-per-click advertising. Let’s start with advanced search.

A simple search on a search engine is where you enter a few keywords, hit the search button and get results. For many searches this is fine. But for some searches, you want to narrow the results down. Specifically, limiting search results by date. For example, let’s say you are searching for information on a particular surgical procedure. You type the name of that procedure into Google and you get quite a few results. You start reading. At some point, you realize the information you are reading is 10 years old. Surgical procedures are often changing and improving. You don’t want old information. So what you need to do is limit your search results to information more recent.

To do that on Google, look in the left column of the search results. You’ll see things like “Everything”, “Images”, “Maps”, and so forth. You can click on these categories to limit your results to those categories. However, what we are looking for is to limit by date. The last item in the left column is “Show search tools”. Click on that and you will get more options for limiting your search results. One of these options is by time. It gives you options like “Past 24 hours”, “Past month”, and “Past year”. You can also enter a custom date range if you wish. If you click to show results that are relevant for the past year, you will limit your search results to more recent and updated information.

You can do the same thing on Yahoo, although the only options are a day, a week, and a month. No option for limiting results to the past year and no custom date range. Bing and Ask doesn’t have the option to limit search results in this way. AOL has these features, but you have to click on “Advanced Search” in the upper right-hand corner to access them.

When you do a search on a search engine, you will see advertisements. When you do a search, if the keywords you enter are being used by advertisers, you will see search results at the top in a shaded box that contain advertisements related to your search. This type of advertisement is called pay-per-click. Here’s how it works.

Advertisers sign up to place ads and provide a list of keywords and bid on how much they are willing to pay for each click. When someone does a search that includes those keywords, the ads for the top bidders are displayed in a shaded box above the search results. The advertiser doesn’t have to pay anything for simply displaying the ad. The advertiser only pays if you click on their ad; thus the term, pay-per-click.

If you are searching for a specific company online, help them out and click on them in the search results instead of in the advertising section. By saving that company money, you help keep their prices low and by doing that save yourself money when you do business with them.

If you own a business, you may wish to advertise this way since the traditional methods of advertising are becoming less effective while online advertising is becoming more effective. If you are interested, check out Google AdWords or Microsoft adCenter (includes Bing and Yahoo).

Domain Name Server (DNS)

Domain Name Server (DNS)

DNS stands for Domain Name Server. When you type in the name of a website like www.google.com, that name has to be translated into a numerical address known as an IP address so that your computer can find google.com. DNS is the process that does that translation.

Each Internet service provider provides a DNS server and your computer uses that by default. But you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. And there are other DNS servers around that you can use, but why would you want to?

There are many reasons. The best reason, in our opinion, is security. There are DNS servers you can use that do not have known infected websites in them. So it is impossible for your computer to access these known infected websites because your computer can’t get to them if DNS doesn’t have the address.

Some DNS providers give you the ability to filter based on categories. For example, you could tell it to filter out websites with nudity on them. You could filter out instant messaging, parked domains, gambling sites, and so forth. The list is quite extensive. If you filter out a category, your computer can no longer access a website in that category.

Another thing some alternative DNS services can give you is reporting and statistics. You can see which websites you access the most and how often. This can also help you track down an infection.

Another reason to use an alternative DNS is that your Internet service provider may not do a very good job at maintaining their DNS server. If there are problems with their DNS server, you won’t be able to access things on the internet. Alternative DNS servers are usually more stable and often faster.

We think everyone should switch their DNS to Comodo Secure DNS to help improve the security on your system and help prevent infection. In fact, if we have worked on your system in our office, we may have already switched you over to Comodo DNS. For more information about Comodo Secure DNS or for instructions on how to begin using it, go to http://www.comodo.com/secure-dns/.

If you want to be able to filter out categories of websites and see statistics, then you should use Open DNS. For more information or to begin using OpenDNS, go to http://www.opendns.com/.

There are many other DNS servers that are available, but these are the ones we recommend.

You can change the DNS server on each computer, or you can change it on your router so that every computer that connects to your router will use the DNS server you specify.

Where Did My Download Go?

Where Did My Download Go?

When you download a file from a website, where it goes depends on three things. What version of Windows you have; Which browser you are using; And whether or not you changed the default download location.

We are assuming here that you have not changed the default download location. If you changed it, then whatever you set it to is where your files will be. Assuming you didn’t change it, here’s where to look for your files.

If you are using Windows XP and Internet Explorer, before downloading the file, it will ask you where you want to put it. It defaults to the last place you download them to. If you are using Firefox, your download should go to your desktop. If using Chrome, your download should go to a Downloads folder under your My Documents folder.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 come with a download library. All browser downloads should go to your download library. To find your download library, click on Start and then click on your login name in the upper right-hand corner of the start menu. Then double-click on Downloads. If you downloaded something and it’s not in your Downloads library, try looking on your desktop or in the Downloads folder under your Documents library.

Ad-Blocking Software

Ad-Blocking Software

Ad-blocking software speeds up web surfing by blocking out those annoying ads, but more importantly, it helps protect your computer from infection. In this instance, we aren’t talking about pop-up ads. We are talking about banner advertisements embedded in websites. Your browser has the capability to block pop-up ads, but it doesn’t block banner ads. 

Most websites that have advertisements on them get those advertisements from an advertisement service. The advertisements you see on most websites aren’t actually on that website, they come from the server owned by the advertisement service. Often, the owners of the website displaying the advertisements do not know what specific advertisements are being displayed on their website. 

The problem comes in when the advertisement service is hacked. Now, any website showing advertisements from this service will be showing infected advertisements. If you click on one of these ads, your computer could become infected. 

Of course you should first and foremost have good, up-to-date, security software. But another good way to protect from this type of attack is to use ad-blocking software. 

You should also be aware that Adblock software can sometimes interfere with the normal operation of a web page. You can disable the ad-block software for that web page easily. 

Our favorite ad-block software is Adblock Plus. It’s free! Just go to www.adblockplus.org to download it and install it into your browser.

We also recommend you install the Web of Trust (WOT) add-on/extension as well. You can get that at www.mywot.com.

Note that if we worked on your system in the last year and you had Firefox or Chrome on your system, we may have already installed these add-ons for you.

How Did I Get All of These Toolbars?

How Did I Get All of These Toolbars?

If you are like most people, your browser probably has several toolbars installed in it. Just to make sure we are all on the same page, a browser is the program you use to view web pages. The browser that comes with Windows is Internet Explorer. Other popular browsers include FireFox, Google  Chrome, and Safari. A toolbar, is software that you can install on your computer that puts a bar across the top of your browser. Toolbars offer additional features and functionality. Popular toolbars include the Google Toolbar, the MSN toolbar (also known as the  Bing bar), and the Yahoo toolbar.

The truth is, there are literally hundreds of different toolbars in existence. Seems like every website and every application has their own toolbar. Are toolbars evil? Not necessarily. Toolbars can provide some good functionality. More often than not, however, they don’t really offer any new features that most people need or want. The result is that your toolbars go unused and they just take up space and slow your browser down.

In most cases, you may not even be aware of how these toolbars got on your computer in the first place. Some security software installs toolbars. Some malware (infections) use toolbars. But most toolbars get installed when you install or update other software. For example, when you install or update Adobe Reader, if you aren’t careful to deselect the option to install the Google toolbar, then it will install the Google toolbar on your system while it is installing or updating Adobe Reader.

I’ve seen some systems with 8 toolbars. Sometimes there are so many toolbars that there isn’t much room left to display the website you are looking at. So that you can see more of each website and also keep your web browser running as well as possible, we recommend that you uninstall any toolbars you don’t use.

For information on how to uninstall programs on Windows XP, go to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307895

For information on how to uninstall programs on Windows Vista or Windows 7, got to
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Uninstall-or-change-a-program

Uninstall each tool bar one by one.

Update on IP Addresses

Update on IP Addresses

In June of 2010 we issued an article about the Internet Running out of IP Addresses and we have an update for you on this story. But first we want to refresh your memory about this issue.

Any device that uses the internet has to have a unique number assigned to it. It’s like an address or telephone number. This number is called an IP number. IP stands for Internet Protocol. The original design of the IP address didn’t foresee the popularity that the Internet would gain. The result is that the numbering scheme could only go so high and we began to realize we were running out of IP addresses.

A new scheme was invented. This new scheme is called IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6). Although we have this new scheme and we have known that we were going to run out of IP addresses for many years, the people responsible for getting things moved over to IPv6 have frankly dragged their feet. The people I am referring to are Internet service providers and manufacturers of networking equipment.

So that’s it in a nutshell. The latest news is that it has really happened. It was officially announced that we have run out of IP addresses. Did the Internet go boom and stop working? No. Why? Because we haven’t really run out; yet. It’s complicated. Basically, IP addresses are allocated to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other similar entities in large blocks. All of these large blocks of IP addresses have been allocated now, but the entities who were allocated the large blocks of IP addresses have available IP addresses inside these large blocks.

Something else that also helps is routers. Let us say that your small business or home has 5 computers. Your router is assigned an IP address by your Internet Service Provider. Computers in  your home or business that are attached to the router are assigned a local or private IP address. The router handles everything so that even though the computers attached to it don’t have true internet IP addresses, they can still use the internet through the router. The router knows which computer the information belongs to and when the result comes back, it routes it to the correct computer. So a home or business with several computers will only actually use up one IP address.  If it wasn’t for that, we would have run out of IP addresses a long time ago.

So for the next year or two, there is going to be some shuffling of IP addresses around so the internet can keep expanding. Networking manufacturers and Internet Service Providers are now finally taking this seriously and doing something about it. But because it’s so complicated and there’s a lot to be done, it’s going to take time. So, there is going to be a long period of time when we are using both the old IP numbers and the new IPv6 numbers. And there is actually going to be a test of this on June 8, 2011. It’s being called World IPv6 Day. Geeks all over the world are very excited.

So what does this mean for the average residential Internet user? In the short term it doesn’t mean much. At some point your internet service provider will be contacting you about replacing your cable/DSL modem. At that point, you will also need to replace your router (if you have one). Until your ISP contacts you, don’t’ worry about it.

For most businesses, however, it won’t be that easy. The cost and effort depends on the size of the business and what type of equipment and software you have. As with residential customers, you can’t really do anything about it until your ISP upgrades their equipment. However, you should start planning for this. Networking equipment like modems, switches, routers, access points, and things like that will have to be replaced with new IPv6 compatible equipment. Network printers, Network Attached Drives, Networked copiers, and any other networked equipment may have to be replaced. Servers may need software upgrades. And any software that uses IP addresses to communicate with other computers over the internet may need to be upgraded. All businesses should start taking inventory of their software and equipment and document a plan. We also recommend that you contact your ISP to get an idea of timing so you can plan your budget accordingly. If you need help with any of this, give us a call.

The Best Browser

The Best Browser

A web browser is a program you use to view content on the World Wide Web. The browser that comes with Windows is Internet Explorer. But there are lots of free browsers you can download and use. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. In terms of market share, Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser simply because it comes with Windows. But just because it is the most popular doesn’t mean it’s the best. In fact, because Internet Explorer is the most popular, that makes it a big target for viruses and other infections which is one reason why we often recommend that people use one of the alternative browsers.

When evaluating which browser is the best, we look the following criteria:

  • Speed

  • User interface (how good it looks and how easy it is to use)

  • Security

  • Add-ons (extensions)

There are many browsers out there, many of which you have never heard of. For this article, we are concentrating on the top five browsers:

  • Internet Explorer

  • Google Chrome

  • Mozilla Firefox

  • Apple Safari

  • Opera

We won’t bore you with all of the details of the results. Here is the bottom line. Google Chrome was the fastest browser and it was also the most secure. In terms of user interface, it was a tie between Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. And in the area of add-ons, Mozilla Firefox was the winner with Google Chrome a close second.

Based on these results, Google Chrome is the best browser followed by Mozilla FireFox in second. We recommend that you download and install Google Chrome and use it as your default browser. If you try Google Chrome and don’t like it, then try Mozilla Firefox. They are both free, so why not give one or both of them a try.

You may be wondering if you can or should uninstall Internet Explorer. The answer is, you can’t. Internet Explorer is an integral part of Windows and can’t be uninstalled. Furthermore, Internet Explorer has a feature called ActiveX that no other browser supports. Even though ActiveX is an old technology that was supposed to be phased out, it is still widely used, especially by Microsoft. What that means is that you will run into some websites that have certain features that will only work with Internet Explorer. So you may need to use Internet Explorer from time to time, even if it’s not your default browser.

You can, and probably should, have more than one browser on your computer, but only one can be your default browser. But it’s easy to switch between them. For each browser you have installed on your system, there will be an icon on your desktop to launch them. Just double-click on the icon for the browser you want to run.

Here’s where you can download Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox:

Google Chrome:               www.google.com/chrome

Mozilla Firefox:                 www.getfirefox.com

 

How Fast Is Your Internet?

How Fast Is Your Internet?

Your Internet speed is measured in two ways. Download speed and upload speed. Download speed is how fast information travels from a computer on the internet down to your computer. Upload speed is how fast information can travel from your computer up to another computer on the internet.

Most things we do on the internet require a lot of download speed, but not much upload speed. Websurfing, for example, is mostly download speed. Receiving email is downloading. Sending email is uploading. If you share files and someone downloads a file from you, that’s uploading.

The download speed on your Internet connection is faster than your upload speed. I won’t get into the technical details as to why that is. That’s why it may seem fast when you are surfing the web, but when you send an email with a picture attached, it seems slow.

When you sign up for internet access from your phone company or cable company, they will have different packages you can get that offer different speeds. For example, you can get RoadRunner (from Time Warner Cable) in speeds of .768/.128 mbps, 1.5/.384 mbps, 7/.512 mbps, 15/.756 mbps, and 30/5 mbps. mbps stands for Million Bits Per Second. The first speed is the download speed and the speed after the slash is the upload speed.

What to know what speed you are really getting? Run a test. Just go to www.bandwidthplace.com and run a test. It will tell you what your download and upload speeds are. When you run the test, make sure there is no internet activity on your computer or any other computer on your network or it can skew the test. Also be aware that the advertised speeds are maximum, not average speeds. You should also know that some advertise burst speeds. That means even though you are paying for a download speed of 7 mpbs, it there may be times when it will burst and go faster, depending on network traffic.

For example, here at Cyber Tek Computer Pros, I ran the test. We got a download speed of 14.5 mbps and an upload speed of 1.8 mbps. Our internet service is for 15 mbps download and .756. So the resulting download speed was pretty close to 15, but the upload speed was more than twice as fast as what is advertised thanks to a burst of speed.

By the way, if you run the test, be aware that it may show the results in kbps or mbps. Kbps is thousands and mbps is millions. I showed all of the numbers in this article in mbps. 1 mbps is faster than 512 kbps. 512 kbps is .512 mbps.

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